Prohibition on driftnet fisheries: Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment

29-01-2015

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the Proposal laying down a prohibition on driftnet fisheries. In Council Regulation (EC) No 809/2007 a driftnet is defined as a gillnet ‘held on the sea surface or at a certain distance below it by floating devices, drifting with the current, either independently or with the boat to which it may be attached. The overall impression is of an impact assessment prepared in some haste. Even if elements of the draft version of at least one of the two external studies commissioned were apparently used in its preparation, the timing of their completion seems to have been far from ideal. The IA is clearly hampered by the acknowledged lack of adequate data regarding the core problems. Although a genuine attempt has evidently been made to describe the current situation, and in particular to establish how many driftnet fisheries and vessels are concerned, the presentation of the various figures coming from different sources is confusing and does not provide a clear overview. Finally, other issues identified, such as, for example, the monitoring and control difficulties, some of which would presumably persist in case of a total ban, might have deserved further consideration in the context of the preferred option.

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the Proposal laying down a prohibition on driftnet fisheries. In Council Regulation (EC) No 809/2007 a driftnet is defined as a gillnet ‘held on the sea surface or at a certain distance below it by floating devices, drifting with the current, either independently or with the boat to which it may be attached. The overall impression is of an impact assessment prepared in some haste. Even if elements of the draft version of at least one of the two external studies commissioned were apparently used in its preparation, the timing of their completion seems to have been far from ideal. The IA is clearly hampered by the acknowledged lack of adequate data regarding the core problems. Although a genuine attempt has evidently been made to describe the current situation, and in particular to establish how many driftnet fisheries and vessels are concerned, the presentation of the various figures coming from different sources is confusing and does not provide a clear overview. Finally, other issues identified, such as, for example, the monitoring and control difficulties, some of which would presumably persist in case of a total ban, might have deserved further consideration in the context of the preferred option.